By Luigi Sibona
Directed: George Lucas
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Lee, Samuel L Jackson, Ian McDiarmid.
Let’s lay our cards on the table. Attack of the Clones is a rotten, bloated corpse of CGI-fuckery, shat-script-spouting characters and Star Wars-lore-sodomizing revisionism. Ok, I just had to get that out there. Episode II of George Lucas’ costly exercise in self-flagellating prequel-ising is a really bad film. A really bad film. Like, the kind of leviathan, Moby Dick-eque, billion dollar bad film that doesn’t get made anymore. Studios like Marvel, Pixar and Disney (so just Disney then) have got this kind of tent pole movie making down to such a formula that such a catastrophe is a thing of the past. People will try and tell you that Warner Bros and DC’s recent crop of copulation are irredeemable travesties but both Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad have their moments, no matter how brief and fleeting they may have been.
So now to reiterate what you already know. Dear old George just can’t let a good thing be, he’s got to go back and fiddle with it till it adheres to whatever his perverse sense of taste dictates, (as seen with his CG-skull-fuck reissue of the original trilogy). Or the introduction of the goddamn midichlorians! Space wizards, George! That’s all Jedis ever had to be! It’s a space fantasy, why try to retroactively explain something that never needed explaining in the first place. The force was illusive, conceptual, not science. Trying to rationalise a flippant form of science in fantasy seems utterly redundant. Look at me, I’m ranting…
The force isn’t the only Star Wars touchstone that gets castrated of a sense of the unknown or mythology, it seems a scene can’t go by without one of your favourite original trilogy characters getting a bloody origin. Why ruin Boba Fett, you’ve already diluted his impact by essentially having him appear in Episode II in the guise of father, Jango, but that’s not enough, you’ve got to have another snotty, little kid as the young Boba. Boba Fett was always the Clint Eastwood character, the cypher – the spaceman with no name if you will.
As for Hayden Christensen… he gets his own rant. What is it with Hollywood? Every few years or so, Hollywood tries to push its new distinctly uncharismatic toy boy down our throats – look most recently to Sam Worthington and Jeremy Renner. Both the aforementioned are by no means bad actors but Hollywood needs to stop trying to make them the next big thing (as they’ve done with poor old Sam Worthington). Hayden Christensen, who was just that, on the other hand, is a bad actor. People love to rag on Jake Lloyd’s Anakin and yes, he is what could be called a ‘grating, punchable buttmuch’ but he’s James Earl Jones next to the whiney, gutless, leering gimp of an Anakin as portrayed by Christensen.
The real issue with Attack of the Clones isn’t even really a narrative or character one, it’s a physiological one (as wanky as that sounds, bare with me). The overabundance of flimsy visual effects only exacerbates the character interactions, flimsy as they are in their own right. We are left watching characters we don’t believe in a space we can’t believe. Coming out within pissing distance of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was a severe disservice, having shown just how real and tactile an equally surreal and otherworldly a fantasy landscape can come to life. The original trilogy had just that, a tactility, a solidity that you could believe and the always slightly hokey script could come alive in.
It all comes down to Lucas. To be frank he’s never been a good director, American Graffiti was alright calling card and A New Hope was some kind of fluke propelled by great world building and lightning-in-a-bottle cast chemistry but he handed directing duties of the truly great Star Wars’ to his far more talented, and criminally unrecognisable behind Lucas’ ego, mates – Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand respectively. Lucas has a lot to answer for still but in its safe hands at Disney and after J.J. Abrams solid first turn in, it’s on wards and upwards for Star Wars. You could say we Star Wars fans have a new hope (I’m sorry).
To round up this emotional exorcism I have only scratched the surface of, all I can say is George Lucas can take this particular abomination and shove it back up his vacuous Sarlacc Pit it was half-heartedly defecated from.